Social media are powerful tools for communicating with niche audiences, cultivating brand advocates, influencing influencers, generating awareness and achieving other communications objectives. And sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have your content go viral.
In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we explore the ease with which some social media content goes viral. But, we also examine how having your content go viral can occasionally backfire.
This week, The Hill contributor Alicia Cohn reported on an interview conducted by Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Joshua Green with Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on how Apple co-founder Steve Jobs taught them how to take the president’s reelection campaign viral. Cohn writes, “The ability to go viral on social media offers any political campaign the chance to get more bang for their buck, because friends typically pass on content to other friends in an exponentially widening social circle without adding to campaign costs.” Jobs advised Messina to create a campaign presence on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Google. The campaign has taken an aggressive social media approach and Messina continues to gain advice from other innovators.
Social media has unleashed new opportunities for public relations professionals when it comes to tailoring a pitch. These same online tools also have the ability to publicly expose a bad pitch, especially when it’s obvious that person sending the pitch did absolutely no background research on said journalist. Fast Company’s Amber Mac offers a few simple tips on “how to leverage social media and avoid being socially ridiculed for a bad pitch:
- “Do your social search homework.” Get to know more about the publication he/she writes for, what industry he/she covers, and what approach he/she takes in his/her writing.
- “Consider a social pitch first.” Considering that many journalists spend more time on social media platforms than checking their email, sometimes it is more effective to send a quick pitch or teaser via social media to get the conversation started.
- “Kill the “Dear journalist” form letters and mass emails.” In last week’s Friday Five: Think of Pitching as a Relationship we discussed the importance of making connections and creating engagement channels with journalists you are trying to pitch. That also means no mass emails addressed to general titles that indicate you really don’t care to get to know the recipient of your pitch, and in return the journalist on the receiving end doesn’t care to get to know anything about you or your pitch.
Successful Campaigns Become Part of the Social Media Experience (The Huffington Post)
As we emphasize the importance of public relations professional engaging with journalists to further the impact of their pitch, it is also important to note that brands and company’s must also build relationships with their audience. Huffington Post contributor Ben Padley, global digital engagement director at Barclaycard, discusses the strategy behind initiating a successful social media campaign. The key is to engage with people on the social media platforms where they already exist. In Padley’s experience, “it is better to view the objective as forming relationships with your consumers and enriching their digital experiences rather than seeing your goal only in terms of building an audience.”
Last week, Applebee’s launched a new social media campaign “Life is Better Shared” which includes three videos that mock mommy bloggers, Twitter users and Pinterest users. This recent campaign which mocks the millions of social media users is Applebee’s attempt to go viral. A spokesperson from Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions, the company that developed the campaign with Applebee’s told mediabistro, “So far the reviews are mixed.” “The message has been misunderstood by some and I just wanted to take a second to clear things up. Applebee’s loves social media and fully embraces it.” What seemed like a provocative take on reaching social media users where they already exist, may have taken a wrong turn.
Viral Videos: What makes them Viral? (DailyDealMedia)
Anyone who has ever worked on social media campaign that included YouTube videos has secretly hoped that it would be their video that goes viral. We’ve seen the viral nature bring awareness to serious issues like with the KONY 2012 video and Susan G. Komen v. Planned Parenthood debacle but we’ve also seen silly videos that offer nothing more than good laugh get millions of views in a short time. DailyDealMedia’s Jessica Passman writes, “most viral-videos fit in the category of either a parody of something popular, animal/baby cuteness, and/or wow factor.” Beau Lewis, partner at creative agency, Seedwell, and specialist in producing and distributing videos said “The key is making a video that elicits a strong enough emotion or reaction from a group of people that they feel compelled to share it with others.” It is crucial to “seed” your video with an influential person as studies have shown that without any outside interaction, the video only generated popularity in the short-run.
Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.